Disney Halloween Costumes for the Whole Family

One of my favorite things, yet something we don’t do, is to look at pictures of families that go all out for Halloween. Celebrities like Neil Patrick Harris and Heidi Klum are two people I make sure to check out on Instagram to see what they did! However, you don’t need to be a celebrity to go all out for Halloween. These Disney Halloween costumes are perfect for the whole family…even your furry friends!

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disney halloween costumes

Images used with permission

Disney Halloween Costumes

Dressing up as a family for Halloween can be so much fun for the kids! While we’ve never done a themed Halloween costume thing for our whole family, my kids still remember the time when their dad dressed up as a giant Whoopee Cushiondisney halloween costumes! These Disney Halloween costumes are absolutely adorable. How fun is it to take your kids to see the new Incredibles movie and then have all of you dress up as that family for Halloween?!? Your kids will eat that up!

disney Halloween costumes

Image used with permission

If just dressing up the kids are your thing, that’s OK! These Disney Halloween costumes for the little ones are super cute! When I think of Disney, I think of old school Disney from when I was younger. So that means, Belle, Little Mermaid, Tinkerbelle, and Cinderella.

disney halloween costumes

Images used with permission

No worries…there are Disney Halloween costumes for boys too!! I doubt there is a boy on this planet that doesn’t know about Star Wars. My son has been obsessed with Star Wars since he was very little. I swear he had like five light sabers! Don’t even get me started on Spiderman! He used to dress up in the Spiderman costume in preschool and marry all the girls! No joke!

disney halloween costumes
Images used with permission

To find these costumes and so many more, be sure to check out Shop Disney. The baby costumes are absolutely adorable! I can’t even begin to pick a favorite! And don’t forget about your furry friend! The Disney pet costumes are the cutest thing ever. I have a cat, but now I want a little dog so I can dress it up as an Ewok!

4 Reasons to Conduct a Business Energy Audit

In the wake of the economic limbo following 2008’s meltdown, consumer spending has teetered between penny-pinching and downright stingy. The entities perhaps hit the hardest, were the startups and the small business owners. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs and big business began erring on the side of caution: They audited everything.

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business energy auditImage via Pexels

In a desperate scramble to salvage their sinking ships, they plugged every hole. But many neglected an often-overlooked cash drain on any enterprise: a reluctance to conduct energy audits. Just as the IRS might perform a tax audit on your business accounts and finances, you should also audit your company’s energy usage. Startups, in particular, need to save money and slash expenses where ever they can. What follows are four reasons you should conduct a business energy audit.

Lower Energy Bills and Potential Government Grants

business energy audit

Image via flickr by 100isNow

In the same vein as home energy audits, a business energy audit can help you achieve greater energy efficiency. During an audit, an expert electrician will identify your biggest energy leaks and suggest energy conservation measures to rectify them. The incentives on your end include lower power bills and, possibly, government grants. Many countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, offer government grans and loans to businesses looking to optimize their infrastructures by implementing strategies like energy auditing. It’s a definite win-win for all involved.

Benefits Beyond the Electrical

A typical energy audit starts with an analysis of an establishment’s HVAC system. During the audit, you can request that the technician test your electronics and appliances to determine their average electrical consumption. But the bulk of the audit will focus on factors such as poor insulation causing air leaks. The auditor will also consider  your heating and cooling equipment (thermostats, air conditioning, hot water systems, etc.) because if not functioning at optimum levels, they use much more energy than required.

Trusted Results Using Computer Modeling and Data Analysis

According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), an energy audit should consist of three levels. An ASHRAE Level 1 inspection, commonly referred to as a walk-through audit, serves solely to establish energy consumption trends and identify how you might improve them. At Level 2, the auditor performs diagnostic testing to evaluate your HVAC and ventilation system’s efficacy, your property’s insulation levels, and possible code violations, among other things. With an ASHRAE Level 3 audit, you’re presented with options for renewable (more sustainable) power systems. These might include geothermal HVACs, solar photovoltaic systems, and wind generators.

Reduced Business Costs

Conducting a business energy audit might not be on the average capitalist’s to-do list, but ever budding entrepreneur knows the value of wise investments: Don’t spend; invest. And with most energy audits concluding in reports that list potential returns on investment and life cycle savings, you can make informed decisions that can save you money in the long run.

These savings plus the possibility of qualifying for government grants and rebates make for an opportunity too good to pass up.

Kings Island Amusement Park Family Fun

When I think back to the summers I had growing up, I think about all the times we went to Kings Island amusement park. I still remember the first roller coaster I rode. It was the Beast. A HUGE wooden roller coaster! When I had the opportunity to receive media passes to take my family to Kings Island, I jumped at the chance. My daughter was just getting into roller coasters and I wanted to take her to the amusement park I loved growing up!

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kings island amusement park

About Kings Island Amusement Park

Kings Island open in the spring of 1972. Planning for the park began when Coney Island, a popular amusement park along the banks for the Ohio river flooded. Coney Island needed to be relocated, as flooding was something it had to endure due to it’s location. Taft Broadcasting purchased 1600 acres of land to build Kings Island! Interesting little tidbit of information…a public contest was held to determine the name of the park! Currently, Kings Island is owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company.

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Water Park Fun!

With the price of admission, you not only get access to the amusement park, but also the HUGE Soak City water park! The day we went to the park, it was rather overcast. Our plan was to go to the water park as soon as it opened (11 am…park opened at 10 am). The kids had a blast at the water park! They’ve already said that if we go again next year, they want to spend an entire day at the water park!

soak city amusement park
As you can see, my son took the lazy river quite literally! He could have spent all day on Splash River! My daughter and husband loved all of the water slides. Unfortunately, I did not participate at Soak City. I knew I would have too difficult of a time climbing all the stairs without my knee brace. After three hours splashing around in the wave pools and riding on the water slides, we got changed and headed back into the park.

Rides, Rides, and more Rides!

As I mentioned before, my daughter was just getting into roller coasters. Before our trip to Kings Island, she sat on the website and watched videos of all the rides she could and made a spreadsheet of what she wanted to ride. Not even joking! The first roller coast we rode for the day was The Racer. My little dare devil wanted to sit in the front car…so we did! I highly recommend the front car on that ride. It’s so fun!

Banshee amusement park ride
I had no idea that Kings Island no longer had the Son of the Beast roller coaster. While waiting for my daughter and husband to get off Banshee, another guest at the park told me that when Son of the Beast was closed for good, the Banshee took it’s place. This was one of my daughters favorite rides! Her other favorites were Mystic Timbers and the Diamondback (though she did hold her dads hand on that first hill)!

amusement park ride banshee

Food and Other Attractions

When I found out that Kings Island had a Chick Fil-A, I was VERY excited! Living in Michigan, we have a Chick Fil-A on a couple college campuses and at a mall that is rather far from my house so when we are in Ohio, we make sure to stop and eat there! However, I was super disappointed to see that Chick Fil-A at Kings Island did not offer any of their grilled chicken options. They could offer chicken fingers OR chicken nuggets and then add the grilled nuggets. Likewise, they could offer the spicy chicken sandwich OR the regular chicken sandwich and then add the grilled chicken sandwich. For people with gluten/wheat allergies (non-celiac), little things like that mean a lot!

However, we found food to eat and my kids were beyond excited to eat Panda Express! We hung out in Festhaus while it rained. I highly recommend stopping in there. Get a cool drink, eat some good food and enjoy some fun, live entertainment! For those with food allergies or other special dietary needs, be sure to check out this section for more information.

amusement park festhaus
Final Thoughts

First and foremost, you need to visit Kings Island! I’ve been to several amusement parks and this one is, hands down, my favorite. We went during Labor Day weekend where they have their Dollar Days. Various things like pizza, small drinks, ice cream, etc only cost $1. A few tips:

  • Purchase one of the refillable drink bottles. We bought two. They cost around $15 and you can refill them every 15 minutes for the entire day!
  • Take a look at the meal plans. We didn’t this time, but plan to look into them next time we go.
  • Go for two days. The water park is amazing and you will want to spend all day there.
  • If lines aren’t for you, check out the Fast Lane options.

So…what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Kings Island Amusement Park today! There is still plenty of time to visit the park this year! They are currently preparing for their Halloween Haunt! How fun!

Have you been to Kings Island?

KT Tape for Total Knee Support

I have been having issues with my knees for YEARS. About 10 years ago, I dislocated my kneecap (read how here…it’s a really funny/embarrassing story). Ever since then, I have had issue after issue with my knee. A month ago, I stepped into the garage and my leg gave out and I literally felt my lower part of my leg go one way and the upper part of my leg go the other way. It was as gross as it sounds. I now needed to figure something out.

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What Have I Done for my Knee So Far?

Last summer I met with my knee doctor and we went over options for my knee. My MRI wasn’t terrible in that I needed surgery immediately, but it wasn’t great either. One part of my issue is that I have a lot of damage to the cartilage. The doctor recommended that I looking into gel injections. Basically, they inject gel in and that acts as the “cartilage”. They typically last 6-8 months before you need to redo the gel injection.

In addition to the gel injections, the doctor also recommended I met with the surgeon to get his take on things. That meeting was really good. My surgeon and I decided that I will exhaust every possibility before resorting to surgery. So I met with a physical therapist to get a program that I can do at home and the gym and I did the gel injections. I religiously did my exercises over the course of the year. Things were going well, until they weren’t. When I started getting a lot of pain again, I made an appointment with the doctor and we set up another round of gel injections. Just after the third injection was when I had the incidence in my garage. Back to the doctor and surgeon I went.

Meeting with the Surgeon

After talking things over with the surgeon and having him evaluate my knee and compare those results with the evaluation from last year, it was apparent that things have gotten a lot worse. He recommended two surgeries. The first surgery, called the MACI Procedure is a scope procedure where he will go in, look around, clean up the backside of my kneecap and take a biopsy of my cartilage. That biopsy will be sent to a lab and more of my cartilage will be grown in that lab so it can be implanted back into my knee.

The second surgery will be where he takes my cartilage and replaces it back in my knee. In addition to that, he will also perform a MPFL reconstruction to reconstruct the ligaments and give me better patellar stability. After reading up on both surgeries, I feel it is a good plan of action. I can’t continue on with the pain and instability. Getting the surgery scheduled will happen this coming Tuesday, as the scheduler is out of town.

Best Way to Stabilize the Knee for Support

So, as you can imagine, I have had my fair share of braces over the years. My favorite brace is the DonJoy Reaction WEB Knee Support Bracekt tape. If you are looking for good knee support, this is your brace. It’s well worth the money and right now it’s on sale for $40 off!! While I like the support of the knee brace, and have been wearing religiously every day for the last month or more, it’s sometimes hot or it doesn’t fit well under my clothes if I’m wearing long pants. Someone mentioned that I should try KT Tape. I know a lot of people swear by KT Tape, but I was always skeptical. However, after watching a bunch of videos on YouTube,  decided to give the KT Tape a chance.

kt tape
Does the KT Tape Offer Support?

Again, I will say, I was SUPER skeptical, but I picked up some KT Tape and tried it out all day yesterday. Within minutes of having it on, I was amazed at how stable my knee felt. The true test came when I had to walk down some stairs. I felt just as stable walking down the stairs as I do when I am wearing my brace. As the day went on, I really felt this was a good option for those times that I either couldn’t fit my brace under my clothes (or didn’t want a super bulky look) and when it decides to be triple digits outside! Things were going great until my leg (hours and hours after putting it on…it’s meant to stay on for multiple days) started itching really bad. It became unbearable. I took the tape off and I had a rash where the tape was. Unfortunately, it looks like I am allergic to the adhesive.

While I had a reaction to the adhesive, many people do not and they swear by this product. I will need to do some research to see if there is another product I can use that may use a different adhesive. Hopefully after surgery (whenever that will be) I won’t need a knee brace or the tape! Fingers crossed!

Emergencies to Plan for Before an International Trip

Many people have international travel on their bucket lists. I know I do! Whether it’s a week in Paris or a month in Costa Rica, traveling internationally is as educational as it is exciting. But what happens if you experience an emergency on your trip? Do you have a game plan for that situation? Here are three emergencies to plan for before an international trip.

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international trip

Natural Disasters

international travel

Image via Flickr by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Before traveling to your destination country, be sure to educate yourself on what type of natural disasters could happen. Are tornadoes common in the area? What about hurricanes? Although experiencing a natural disaster while you travel may be rare, it’s still important to take precautions in your planning.

Designate a location where your family or friends could meet in case of separation. Pack a first aid kit, a flashlight, and some food. Check in with the State Department for natural disaster information. Also, make sure you have copies of your passports, visas, and travel information so you can leave quickly if needed.

If a natural disaster does strike, seek out evacuation routes. Follow any instructions given by emergency personnel, including the Red Cross. Find a safe place to wait for help. Only eat food and drink water that you know is safe. Avoid downed power lines and flooded areas. Pay attention to television or social media alerts. And, after the natural disaster passes, be sure to check in with your family and friends; they’ll want to know you’re safe.

Terrorist Activities and Violence

Terrorist activities and violence, whether criminal or political, can happen without any notice. The State Department recommends that travelers stay aware while traveling abroad. It’s also a good idea to register your trip with the State Department to receive security messages and travel advisories.

Keep in mind that terrorists look for “soft targets,” such as airports, public transportation, sporting events, and hotels. Be aware of suspicious activity when you are in or around these locations while traveling. Pay attention to the local news. Also, make sure you know the location of your home country’s closest embassy or consulate. Finally, you and your travel companions should stick together. Don’t wander off alone.

Medical Emergencies

If you get sick or injured while you are traveling, having the right protection is important. For example, a membership with MedjetAssist can provide additional assistance to you in case of an emergency. MedjetAssist can arrange air medical transport from the hospital in your destination country to a hospital of your choice in your home country.

By upgrading your membership to MedjetHorizon, you will receive additional protective services in the event of a natural disaster, terrorism, kidnapping, or violent crime. Additionally, you will receive crisis response services including evacuation, legal assistance, and communication with your family members back home.

Although you hope to not deal with a crisis during your international trip to Paris or Costa Rica, being prepared for an emergency abroad will give you comfort. To enjoy your international trip and stay safe while traveling, education and preparation should be on your to-do list.